This season has been one like no other in recent times in football. Last winter’s World Cup in Qatar has caused a massive shake-up of regular seasons’ schedule.
The competition caused a six-week break in the season, for which those not in the Middle East were left almost in a state of limbo. Some players would have used personal trainers, who offer accountability, to keep their fitness levels up over the break.
As a result, teams in Europe’s top leagues have had compact fixture lists, which has left no room to breathe at times, and La Liga sides are no different. Many teams have been forced to play weekend, midweek and then weekend again for many successive weeks.
For teams like Real Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla, who has also had to juggle European competition, it has been even harder, and injuries have been a factor as players’ bodies struggle to keep up with the schedule.
Following this weekend’s round of fixtures, La Liga, like most other top leagues in Europe, will break for the first time since the World Cup as international matches take place. For players that have been called up by their respective national teams, there will be no break as they continue to play football.
However, for those not playing internationally, the next two weeks allows them to recharge ahead of the final stretch of the season. With no match to prepare for next weekend, training will be less intense, and more rest can be afforded.
However, it’s also vitally important that players stay focused ahead of the final weeks of the campaign, as there is so much to play for in La Liga. Barcelona and Real Madrid will contest the title race, with the former sitting pretty in that regard.
The race for the Champions League places will be captivating, with the likes of Atletico Madrid, Real Sociedad, Real Betis, Villarreal and Rayo Vallecano all hoping to play in European football’s premier competition next season.
The relegation battle is even more exciting, with up to nine teams in contention to be demoted to the second tier of Spanish football. Elche look destined for relegation, but the only two places are very much up for grabs. With the likes of Sevilla and Valencia involved in the battle, it promises to be one to watch.
For the time being, players can afford themselves a moment of solace ahead of what promises to be another gruelling schedule in the remaining weeks of the season.
By Alejandro Fernandez